Archives For John Varvatos

On Sunday I covered my fifth consecutive Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. I also acted as the on-stage warm-up act, hyping and prompting the crowd before the show and during commercial breaks, for my fourth year. Here are some news and notes from my perspective both on the Magenta Carpet and backstage.

– Any artist that actually stopped and did media on the carpet should get some type of award. The temperatures outside T-Mobile Arena were near triple digits. It was so hot outside that inside they actually blasted the air conditioning during rehearsals. Perhaps it was a nice way to test how cold the venue can become ahead of it receiving an NHL franchise?

– I brought a change of dress shirts to account for the weather. Almost everything I wore in both outfits came from my favorite designer, John Varvatos. The tuxedo pants were H&M and my flower and pocket square were both from TheTieBar.com.

– I’d hate to say I called it but… I called it. Celine Dion stole the show at the BBMAs. I had chills listening to 18,000 inside T-Mobile Arena sing-a-long to “My heart Will Go On.” Celine is beloved as an icon, her voice is still impeccable, the movie is adored and the song as of late has gained new life as a meme of sorts. It was one my second-favorite moment from Sunday night.

– Great running in to Dan Kanter backstage. I first met Dan in 2009 inside The Mall at Steamtown in Scranton; at the time he was playing guitar for this new artist… maybe you’ve heard of him… Justin Bieber? Kanter is Bieber’s musical director and assumed similar duties for Julia Michaels’ performance of “Issues” – which I was a big fan of.

– That Rachel Platten “La La Land” adlib was just that – it was not in the teleprompter. I got a kick out of it.

– Something I really loved about this year’s show is that the stars really seemed to be enjoying themselves. You had Young Money – Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake – front and center both literally and figuratively for the entire show. Instead of acting too cool for the room they decided to simply join in on the party. With Drake setting the new single-night record for awards, they had plenty to celebrate.

– One of my favorite backstage moments came when BK and Tyler from Florida Georgia Line walked off stage after accepting the BBMA for “Top Country Song.” The duo embraced, let out a Ric Flair-like “Woo!” and said to each other, “Man that never gets old!” Nice to see a genuine moment of gratitude between the two.

– Another cool backstage interaction involved Diddy, who was about to pay tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. and reveal the trailer for the new Bad Boy movie “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” The Chainsmokers were walking off the stage after accepting another award and Puff gave them a standing O before chatting with Alex and Drew for a few minutes. That’d be a fun collaboration right?

– Give credit to Vanessa Hudgens for holding her own on national TV and to Ludacris for once again making the whole hosting gig appear way easier than it actually is.

– Some other familiar faces that said hello backstage: Chris Daughtry, Miss America Savvy Shields, Mark Cuban and Hailee Steinfeld.

– I mentioned my second-favorite moment but not the one that tops the list. That honor belongs to my Mom. She was in the crowd cheering on her son while putting the video camera on her new-er iPhone to good use. I am thankful I was able to share the night with her.

Day drinking, an extra-innings Yankees game and Guns N’ Roses at MetLife Stadium were just a few of the highlights from an action-packed weekend in which I commiserated with friends new and old.

My buddy Danny was in town visiting; he didn’t arrive until almost 2 in the morning. Thankfully it didn’t really matter that much because I work nights anyways and I happen to live in… the city that doesn’t sleep. There are bars and even kitchens open until 4 a.m. (or later in the case of the latter) throughout my neighborhood, so we settled in to one for some late-night grub and libations and ended up calling it a night… well, let’s just say the sun was rising when we finally went to bed.

And that was a common theme throughout the weekend.

After a quick breakfast on Saturday, we hopped in an Uber and headed to NoHo where I visited my friends at John Varvatos’ pop-up shop. They were hosting a Guns N’ Roses pop-up shop for the two shows in East Rutherford. Danny and I grabbed a couple of GNR shirts and made our way over to the 4 train, riding uptown to the Bronx.

The Yankees were hosting the Giants in the second of a three-game series and it was Military Appreciation Day at the Stadium. In addition to the ceremonies, the team gave away camouflage Yankees hat to the first 18,000 fans over the age of 21 (the cap was sponsored by Budweiser).


We snagged a few Bloody Marys and walked over to our seats in the bleachers; section 203 to be exact. The “Bleachers Creatures” section was far from full capacity but we did our best to assist in Roll Call (wherein the Creatures chant each name of the Yankees infield and outfield until they acknowledge the fans).

Then we sat. And sat. And sat. After a disappointing 12 innings, the Yankees were handed a brutal 2-1 loss. But, we made some friends who were visiting the Stadium for the first time via… Australia! So we felt it our obligation to at least bring them to Stan’s for a beer so they could completely their quintessential American baseball outing.

Saturday night was spent back in my neighborhood and let’s just say Sunday was definitely a sleep-in day. But even with waking up in the afternoon, we still got in a run before showering and meeting a few of my friends for drinks at a local watering hole nearby. Then we walked to the 1 and got off at Penn Station. Next stop: NJ Transit to the Meadowlands, via a transfer in scenic Secaucus. Lenny Kravitz took the stage around 8:30. Guns N’ Roses followed around 9:45.

Here’s what I thought of the show:

Believe it or not, but there was a Sunday night cap on our return trip to Penn: a walk to Times Square and a few rounds at the classic Jimmy’s Corner. Jimmy was a “corner guy” in boxing; worked with all of the big names. He’s owned this little gem forever and it is the only reason why anyone should want to go to Times Square.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Given my weekend, I slept in Monday too. But it was all worth it. Besides, when will I get to see Axl Rose and Slash on stage together again?

Probably not in this lifetime.

The original plan was to fly to San Diego for the Fourth of July weekend. I have never been to the sunniest city in the country and the Yankees would be in town playing the Padres. Simultaneously crossing a city and baseball stadium off the list over a long weekend sounded like a solid plan to me.

Then, my cousin Anthony called. His fiancé was flying to New York to look for a wedding dress and she suggested he tag along to see me (after all, I am in the wedding). Also the last time Anth stayed with me in the city, there were still boxes from the movers in my living room; it had been a few years.

So I scratched the plans to fly out, took Friday off of work, and bar-hopped with my cousin on the Upper West Side. It was fun for a couple of reasons: I love when I get to spend time with him and given my schedule, a weekday happy hour is as rare as a Donald Trump apology. Not to mention that when he visited me just months after I moved here, I wasn’t as familiar with the area and we didn’t spend much time at my apartment anyways. So it was nice to have a lay of the land and show him around – from the excellent Bloody Mary at The Dead Poet to the oyster and Italian beer special at Tarralucci e Vino.


On Friday night we ate dinner with his fiancé’s family. They spent Saturday dress shopping; we eased in to the day by heading downtown and finding Anthony a tuxedo at my favorite boutique, John Varvatos’ flagship store at 315 Bowery, the old CBGBs. From there, we celebrated with a few more beers, watched Italy lose to Germany (ugh) in the EuroCup, then made our way to Citi Field where the Mets beat the Cubs (another ugh).


Sunday was another great day; brunch on the roof of Eataly and pizza from Grimaldi’s with another Bloody Mary or two in between. They took off in the afternoon for the airport and I headed back to my hood to run in Central Park and begin working off the libations.


It was a perfect weekend: Anthony found his tux, his fiancé found her dress and I can still look forward to visiting San Diego one day.

This story begins the way most good ones do: with a bottomless brunch.

My buddy Danny and I were down in the West Village partaking two weekends ago on a Saturday. I opted for the meatless version of Benedict: Eggs Florentine. I think he went with waffles or French Toast. Regardless, the dishes and the Bloody Mary drinks were both plentiful and delicious.

It was uncharacteristically warm on this late-January afternoon (what else is new this season, right?) and so we decided to walk over to Soho and check out some shops. I went with no intention to buy anything, which is akin to entering a Target with only one item to purchase or heading to the grocery store on an empty stomach.

Naturally, we made our way over to John Varvatos’ flagship store at 315 Bowery; the old CBGB’s, an iconic punk rock venue. There was an end-of-season sale happening and given that The GRAMMYs were right around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to peruse the racks. Stephanie, my stylist, was working in-store and helped me find a couple of items before showing me to a dressing room.

Before we checked out (but I had no intention of buying anything!) Stephanie asked if I was invited to Varvatos’ New York Fashion Week event that Wednesday. I had not (yet) and so she forwarded me the e-vite. The showcase took place from 6 to 8 p.m., meaning that if I timed it correctly I could stop by just before signing on to the radio for my show.

JV was displaying his Fall/Winter 2016 collection and decided to do so in an unconventional way, ditching the runway to instead turn 315 Bowery in to a fun-house of sorts. When I returned to the store Wednesday, I was greeted by a completely redesigned space: gone were any signs of a retail shop, replaced curtained off rooms that had unique soundtracks, both live models and mannequins as well as copious amounts of imagery surrounding the collection’s theme: “Rock Is Dead. Long Live Rock.”

When you first walked in to the building, entering not from Bowery but instead the entrance off 1st Street, you were greeted with coffins and memorials to musicians who were killed by “Pop and EDM music,” “the record industry” and “the political system.”
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And then the aforementioned political system was visualized: mannequins wearing suits with the faces of either one of the 3 Stooges, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton projected on to the heads. The Rolling Stones blared over the speakers as some of JV’s new pieces were worn by models, all of whom covered their faces with masks. Other items were framed and mounted to the wall.

As you turned to yet another room, rock began to gain life again. The Who’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2” screamed over onlookers Snapchatting and Instagramming the event. Varvatos printed the refrain “We Don’t Need No Thought Control” over a wall of bottom-only mannequins, leg crossed, modeling JV jeans.

Varvatos himself greeted those who came out to the show before you entered the final room: lit in bright white, with what I believe was the only live model sans mask.

It was great to see John and experience a rare fashion week event, especially one clearly cut from a different cloth. That bottomless brunch wasn’t too bad, either.